Devotion, dogma, and ladies holiday

I don’t particularly love take out Chinese food, but my family does, especially my son. I do love fortune cookies though. Not the taste, I only eat them when I like the fortune…I got this one a few weeks ago.IMG_0783.JPG

I not only ate it, I saved it:) Rest not from duty, but find rest in it. I certainly try, but as I’ve thought about it more, in seeing it displayed out where I have it. What does it mean? Should I really fold my fitted sheets into perfect flat rectangles? When I cave into the sensation, that it’s good enough to get them into a puffy folded wad that might be a rectangle, as I’m aware that there are four beds I’m doing this for, and my linen closet is bulging from the past attempt of wadding folding? How important is this duty? Should I strive to do a better job with it? At what point does conceding defeat develop into right action?

I had no idea of moon days, six day a week practice or ladies holiday my first year of practicing ashtanga. Quite frankly, as I got more and more passionate about my practice, I was doing so, just about everyday. Alas, it was difficult to force myself into the mindset, that not doing asana, was also a practice, a duty to be compassionate to my body. There have been times I’ve been frustrated as I’m on the verge of figuring something out and a break, albeit, even a brief one, has seemed to be a detriment. Yet, as well, I have come to appreciate and need these days off from asana. However, there can also be a dangerous monkey mind rationalization in aiding and abetting a complacent laziness in avoiding best effort and progress. How do we wrestle which choice is the right action? How much fear or avoidance plays into a decision not to practice, versus doing so because it is the right action, or duty to rest.

Ladies holiday was the hardest for me to incorporate. I admit, I found the concept antiquated and chauvinistic when I first learned about it. I scoffed and figured, just ignore it. I admit though, there had been times, practice and menstruation just didn’t work well, in rather mortifying fashions…leaks, sounds, and gushes, oh my…sorry too much info, I know. Yet I persevered, until, I started becoming irregular, skipping or spotting. The perks of being a woman at times, oh joy. I wrote it off at first, I’m not getting any younger, living with my daughters hormone spikes, stress, and any other possible option besides utilizing ladies holiday.

I finally asked my teacher about it, because of my irregular skip/spotty cycle. She told me a number of women who don’t always get a period, tack on an extra day or two of rest next to a moon day. That many post menopausal women as well as women with different medical or hormonal reasons who don’t menstruate regularly, take this approach of an extra rest day by either new or full moon, to pick one and make it part of my routine.

In theory, I liked it. At first, it was annoying, as I didn’t always want to, or even remember but eventually it became a habit, but more importantly, my cycle slowly came back to its normal annoyance, and now incorporated, ladies holiday. Rest from asana practice, is not rest, but duty to be compassionate to your body. I can’t say if there is a medical reason why my body went through these anomalies due to heeding or not heeding ladies holiday, but I’ll take my holiday now, mostly with pleasure, but a side of guilt because I am admittedly crazy in my intensity. On that note, Sharath was asked what should we do when we are restless and missing asana on these days in conference last spring, and his answer was to take a walking meditation outside if the weather allowed it, just don’t do asana. I’m enjoying my rest in duty today, rainy, wet and cold, busing trying to figure out if I should ever care to learn how to fold a fitted sheet better.

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Newbie

A few weeks back, I wasn’t at my usual shala. I’m familiar and friendly with many of the ashtangis attending mysore there, but not all. I didn’t realize when I put down my mat the woman next to me was completely new. I saw her sitting, but I didn’t know if she was doing pranayama or meditating, I just minded my space and started on my practice. As I was in the midst of my sun salutations, I heard the teacher talking to her about breathing and getting started. I was smiling to myself, remembering being new, remembering my beginning.

I was quietly rooting for her. Praying she wouldn’t be intimidated, hoping she would find something in her experience and come back. The teacher at the shala is fantastic, she really broke it down, modifying for injury and lack of experience. I wasn’t intentionally listening, and I’m sure I only heard snippets drifting occasionally in my direction, however, she was trying, and that is the best any of us can do, just show up and try.

I didn’t start in the Mysore room. I had peeked in, seen the intensity, and chickened out. As a fresh prospect who knew nothing, I don’t know exactly what asana was so scary or impossible to me, but I hoped my practice now, next to this lovely and brave woman, didn’t give off any pretense of anything other than I’m trying just like you! That sun salutation you are struggling through, well, I struggled too there, but now I’ve got a new struggle. Keep trying, progress happens incrementally and not always how we imagine. I hope she continues❤️